Bringing the America’s Cup back to where it all started would surpass all of Sir Ben Ainslie’s previous achievements.
The four-time Olympic gold medallist is the most successful sailor in Games history and last year helped Oracle Team USA recover from a seemingly impossible 8-1 deficit to win international sport’s oldest trophy.
Not one to rest on his laurels, though, Ainslie, who launched his own team, J.P. Morgan Ben Ainslie Racing, in January 2012, quickly set about creating a viable challenge at the 35th edition.
Britain lost the inaugural America’s Cup in 1851 off the Isle of Wight and have not won it since – a hoodoo that, if ended, would be the biggest moment of Ainslie’s career.
“I think it would be a career highlight because it is probably the only thing we haven’t won in British sport,” he said. “I think it would be a huge achievement.
“There have been over the years quite a lot of British challenges and for one reason or another they weren’t successful.
“But I don’t think that’s to any discredit of the people trying, it just goes to show how difficult it is to win. I am under no illusion under the challenge ahead.”
Ainslie has worked non-stop on the challenge since winning with Oracle last September and spent the last few days driving around Europe speaking to different partners.
He returned to the UK on Tuesday but will be back in New York as the bid to set up an America’s Cup challenge continues.
“I probably haven’t worked this hard ever before,” Ainslie, who turns 37 on Wednesday, said. “I mean, doing an Olympic campaign is quite hard work but this has been full on.
“It is incredibly rewarding and it is a new challenge for me – the business side thing as opposed to just the sporting side.
“I found it a very interesting process, very rewarding and we are really starting to get some traction, so I am definitely motivated.”
Ainslie wants all his “ducks in a row” for the likely spring announcement of the event rules and regulations, chosen by the winner.
However, while preparations are afoot, Ainslie insists: “people are getting a bit carried away” with talk about former Mercedes team principal Ross Brawn or Red Bull’s Formula One design chief Adrian Newey joining up.
“I know Adrian Newey quite well and we’ve had a few conversations over the years about the America’s Cup because he is a really keen sailor, but that is as far as it has got,” he said.
“I know he would love to have some involvement, but I think obviously it is clear that his focus is on Formula One and the Red Bull team.
“I think any team would love him, even if it is just to come down for a couple of afternoons and spend some time with the team. It would be really huge for us.”
Ainslie will get back on the water when the Extreme Sailing Series kicks off in Singapore on February 20 and was speaking in London at the UK launch of SOS Rehydrate.
As if he does not have enough on his plate, Ainslie is an ambassador and investor of the new electrolyte replacement drink being rolled out in Sweatshop stores.
“That is a relationship that came about in San Francisco,” Ainslie added. “I met James Mayo, one of the founders, at the ambassadors’ reception in the States.
“We knew each other from the south coast so I tried out the drink and getting involved, started using it with the Oracle team for the America’s Cup. We really like it so I got involved early on.”